Previously, we described two cDNA clones corresponding to a new family of cold regulated genes, pBnC24a and pBnC24b homologous to the human BBC1 (Breast Basic Conserved) gene. In order to further analyze the function and regulation of these two genes we have prepared antibodies against a recombinant fusion protein, MBP-BnC24A and used them to study expression at the protein level. In contrast to the increased mRNA accumulation induced by cold, immuno-blot analysis showed that the quantity of the BnC24 protein was not correlated with the accumulation of BnC24 transcripts and is identical in both control and low temperature treated (4 degrees C) plants, suggesting a translational or post-translational regulation. This was confirmed by overexpressing BnC24 in transgenic Arabidopsis thaliana plants. Despite a substantial increase in mRNA, the BnC24 protein level is unchanged. In addition, we demonstrated by subcellular fractionation and immunodetection that a significant fraction of BnC24 protein is located in the nucleus. Using a GUS fusion construction and biolistic experiments it was found that a portion of the amino terminal region is sufficient to target this protein to the nucleus. These results are consistent with the recent finding that BBC1 and its homologues code for the ribosomal large subunit protein L13. In addition they illustrate the difficulty of correlating accumulation of a given mRNA in response to a given stimulus with a biologically significant role in the adaptation to a new environment.